Behind The Desk: Mr. Manke


Andrew Holton, East Staff Writer

What do you teach?

I teach band at both East and Longfellow. I also teach Digital Music at Tosa East.

What do you do with your free time?

I spend a lot of time outdoors. I’m an avid rock climber so most weekends I’m at Devil’s Lake or going to Dodge State Park to rock climb with friends. Otherwise, I’m at Adventure Rock Walls rock climbing.

Since you are a music teacher, what is your favorite type of music?

That is such a hard question. You know I feel like people say that they have one favorite type of music, then you bring up something else and they’re like, “Oh I like that one too”. I listen to a lot of Jazz and I also listen to a lot of Folk music. I’m really into the American Folk trend of the ‘70s and then Alternative Folk today. I really like Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers.

What is one thing you want your students to know about you?

I’m really here to get to know you [as] people and to grow my musicianship along with [you].

Do you have any goals you want to achieve?

So, I think that my biggest goal is to make the band and the band room as safe of a space as possible. One of the things that I think is most important about teaching is something we tend to lose, [and it’s] that community is what drives everything. If we don’t have a positive community here, we’re never going to learn and we are never going to grow in what we want to learn. So by growing community, we grow friendships, and by growing friendships, we can grow in what we are learning.

Have you taught before?

Yeah, I taught for two years before this in West Allis. I taught at Lane Intermediate School and Frank Lloyd Wright Intermediate.

What motivates you to teach?

I think that this is a deeper answer. I really wanted to become a teacher. I grew up around kids, my mom was a nanny and my dad was a pastor so I was constantly taking care of kids or engaging with kids in one way or another. I failed every class in middle school and it turned out that I had an undiagnosed reading disability. So up until that point in my life I was constantly told by teachers that I wouldn’t make it or that I just wasn’t getting things. When I got to high school, I got that support from my teachers and it really influenced me to continue with teaching.

Did you have any worries or fears about teaching?

Yeah, of course. When you’re a student you don’t tend to realize what goes into it. When you’re a student you tend to show up, do the work that’s been put in front of you, and you go through the hour and you go about your day not really thinking of it. Whereas, on the teacher’s side of things, you start to realize that every single thing you do that day has been planned out even the night before or premeditated for a long time. So all of that that fits into an hour is really hours of work that then gets presented to you as a student. When I first started teaching, my biggest worry was the workload that it truly was and it’s something you don’t realize until you get into the profession.

Overall do you think you were prepared to teach?

As prepared as I could be. There’s an old saying that I got from my last district which was “baptism by fire” meaning you can only be as prepared as you think you can be until you actually get into the position. Doing the job prepares you a lot more than anything else.

What are you looking forward to at East?

[I’m] just looking forward to everything. I’m looking forward to high school level music, I’m looking forward to getting to know the students, I’m looking forward to that at Longfellow as well. I think in total I have probably about three hundred fifty students, so just getting to know everyone and being able to engage at Longfellow and Tosa East.

Do you have any favorite staff members yet?

I don’t know. Mrs. Lato is pretty cool. I really like Mrs. Lato and I really like Mr. McHugh. Mr. McHugh is the guy and Mr. Etter is also super cool. I’m trying to think of others, Colleen (Ms. Jaskulski) in the theater. She’s really cool. I don’t think there is a staff member that I haven’t thought of as a good person.

What do you want your students to remember about you after you have taught them?

That I was always there for them if they needed me.


Portions of this interview were edited for clarity.